AWS mobility swings for the fences, only gets to first base

Not to be outdone by mobile app giants like Google, AWS laid out several mobile features this week.

NEW YORK – AWS shops in search of more mobility are in luck, but whether the features can appeal to Google or Microsoft Azure customers remains to be seen.

The company's raft of mobility tools unveiled here at AWS Summit 2014 is highlighted by Amazon Cognito, an identity and data synchronization tool. Cognito lets developers create applications that authenticate users through public login providers, so user preferences can sync to multiple devices.

“With [its] new offering, Amazon may not lead in every aspect of mobile application components like authentication, analytics and storage, but being able to use a single solution tied to existing Amazon services is a good competitive differentiator,” said Larry Carvalho, an analyst with IDC, a research firm based in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Other products in AWS' mobility arsenal include Mobile Analytics, a way for developers to collect and analyze app usage with reports delivered within an hour of data being sent to the application.

Sergey Zhukov, Web operations manager at M. Shanken Communications Inc., a publisher in New York, uses AWS and plans to give Mobile Analytics a shot. But non-AWS customers fail to see the lure of these new mobility features.

“If you’re already tied into Google and you have Google Apps and Analytics, it may not be such a great package,” he said. “If Amazon offered email services as well, maybe that would help people shift [from Google to Amazon].”

While AWS is considered the leader in infrastructure as a service, it is far from a household name in mobile app development. The cloud giant didn’t even register in Gartner Inc.’s 2013 Magic Quadrant for Mobile Application Development, whereas companies such as Google, SAP, and IBM did.

Google, meanwhile, is very developer-friendly. Last month, it added IT management capabilities to its mobile applications, which allows personal and work devices to live on the same Android device and has eased some enterprise’s worry of vendor lock-in.

So, it would stand to benefit Amazon to play nice with developers.

“Without developers, you’re toast,” said Russ Vanderpool, a cloud consultant in the Boston area.  ”Making an API for mobile that ties into all AWS services is part of Amazon’s strategy to dominate the cloud service market.”

However, AWS's new mobile services don't appear to surpass what's already available.

“It’s a natural extension of [Amazon’s] services, but it seems like there are other service providers out there that provide [the mobility],” said an engineer for a Northeast automotive company who requested anonymity.

Amazon also debuted the Mobile Software Development Kit (SDK), which allows Apple iOS, Google Android and Fire OS developers to access Cognito and Mobile Analytics, along with Simple Storage Service and DynamoDB. Amazon Simple Notification Service was enhanced as well, with the ability to send notifications to iOS, Android and Kindle Fire devices.

AWS mobile product pricing 

Cognito: As part of the free usage tier, customers receive 10 GB of cloud sync storage and a million sync operations in the first year. It costs $0.16 for each 10,000 sync operation and $0.15 per GB of sync storage per month outside the free tier.

Mobile Analytics: The service is pay as you go, with a free tier of 100 million free events per month; it costs $1.00 per million events per month beyond the free tier.

Simple Notification Service: This pay-as-you-go service is based on the number of notifications a customer publishes and delivers. The free tier costs $1.00 for one-million mobile push notifications.

Adam Hughes is a News Editor with TechTarget and can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @AdamHughesTT. Michelle Boisvert is Executive Site Editor and can be reached at [email protected]. Site Editor Katherine Wiley also contributed to this report.

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